THE Kington man who brought alcohol to the Antarctic is staking everything on breathing new life into the town’s Old Picture House, making it a destination for jazz fans across the UK.
But in order to turn the former cinema into a vintage, 1920s-style bar – one that would feature live music and, with a nod to its roots, screen old Hollywood movies – the project will need significant investment.
And with the banks reluctant to underwrite forays into the entertainment industry, Keith Larratt, 61, is searching for support from similarly passionate investors.
Mr Larrett is however no stranger to setting up bars under challenging circumstances.
In 1979, along with 16 other British workers, the carpenter spent two years building the Vernadsky Weather Station in Antartica.
The men made it six months before ‘repurposing’ timber to build the Faraday Bar, now rated as one the world’s coolest drinking holes.
“We got dropped off with supplies – and that was it for two years,” said Mr Larrett, who now works in the area as an electrician.
“Cabin fever describes the situation pretty well – our only contact was by radio, and that dropped out for three months.
“We got six month s in before we decided – ‘we need a proper bar’.”
His latest venture poses new challenges, but like Faraday’s Bar, Mr Larrett says there’s a need in Kington.
The venue would look to attract jazz and blues musicians from across the country, as well as becoming a local venue to host film project like ‘Flicks in the Sticks’ and themed film nights.
The Old Picture House closed its doors at the end of the sixties, and has remained relatively unused since then.
Mr Larratt, and his wife, Sue are now looking to bring it back to its former glory.
He said: “Kington deserves this – it is bursting for a place for people to go out to.
“And jazz people will travel a long way for a good gig.
“Me and my wife Sue live at the Picture House, so we’re willing to stake our home on it.
“We’ve been pursuing it for the last couple of years, but banks won’t touch any new business in entertainment.
“But I’m not letting it go, it’s in my blood.”
The couple secured planning permission for the renovation project last year and since then have been on the lookout for investors.
To get in touch about the project you can contact Mr Larratt 01544 230 690.